Delhi HC dismisses appeal to scrap BRT

Says a developed country is not one where the poor own cars. It is one where the rich use public transport

By Anumita Roychowdhury
Published: Thursday 18 October 2012

public transportThe Delhi High Court has dismissed a plea seeking scrapping of the 5.8 km Ambedkar Nagar-Moolchand bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor in south Delhi. ´╗┐

A division bench of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Manmohan Singh on October 18 rejected the public interest petition filed by non-profit Nyay Bhoomi, contending that the corridor was causing inconvenience to the public. The organisation also sought permission for cars to use a road lane reserved for buses on the BRT corridor there.  

Cars take over 

In the judgement, the bench has taken note of the mobility crisis in the city. It cites Delhi Master Plan 2021, which states that there has been a phenomenal increase in vehicles and traffic in Delhi. Despite measures taken by way of increasing the length of the road network through widening, construction of flyovers/grade separators and Delhi Metro rail, traffic congestion continues to increase unabatedly. If the current trend continues, by the year 2021, car ridership would increase by 106 per cent and bus ridership would increased by only 28 per cent, the judges said.

The judgement highlights that buses are more efficient way of moving people. It states that two cars transport only three persons as against 60 to 70 persons a bus transports during peak hours and around 40 persons during non-peak hours. “A car commences and terminates its journey with the same 1.5 persons. But a bus would drop and pick up many persons en-route. The number of persons transported along the route would be as high as up to 200,” it added. 

The judgement has referred to a survey done by RITES, a government engineering consultancy company specialising in the field of transport infrastructure, in 2008 that showed that in prominent arterial roads such as Swarna Jayanti Marg in Dhaula Kuan, Rao Tula Ram Marg, Nelson Mandela Marg, Olaf Palame Marg and Outer Ring Road, 70 per cent of the traffic volume is cars which carry only around 18 per cent of the total people transported. The 10 per cent traffic volume on these roads consists of buses that transport about 60 per cent of the total people. “This shows that unless traffic volume of cars is reduced, one would see nothing but misery on the streets of Delhi,” the bench noted.  

It has further given the example of the Ring Road which is designed to carry peak hour traffic of 75,000 passenger car units. Today it carries 1,60,000 passenger car units during peak traffic hour. If the current trend continues, the figure would increase to 400,000 by the year 2020 and as against the current 6 lanes on ring road it would require at least 18 lanes. “Where would the land come from?” questions the judgement.  

The judgement is thus conclusive on BRT. It says that keeping in view the fact that road space cannot be augmented, there is no option other than to put in place a good public transport system, with BRT being an integral part thereof; for only then would the citizen of Delhi shift to public transport.

Why not spend on public transport? 

In support of the BRT, the bench contended that since 50 per cent of the people are transported in buses, a dedicated lane for BRT is justified. “The journey time for cars would continue to increase even if there is no BRT because the number of cars and two-wheelers on Delhi roads is increasing,” it said.  

The court also questioned the manner in which the grant given by the Central government through the Union Ministry of Urban Development to Delhi under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) has been utilised. “Eighty-three per cent for expansion of roads and construction of flyovers, 15 per cent on parking projects and only 2 per cent on other transport projects. What does it reveal?” it asked. 

“Cars, cars and cars and nothing else. It could well be argued that when more than 50 per cent of the road passengers travel by buses, it would be illogical and irrational to spend 98 per cent of the grants under JNNURM with the targeted beneficiaries being cars,” the judgement added. 

It also called for an urban transport policy under which people voluntarily switch over to public transport. “A developed country is not one where the poor own cars. It is one where the rich use public transport,” it observed.   

The judgement also asked the government to look into the remedial measures suggested by the government counsel K T S Tulsi that include construction of parallel roads to bypass the traffic from Saket.  


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